Beware of fake phone calls from IRDA

Ten seconds is all that Vijay Sharma gives a telemarketeer. But since the call was from the insurance regulator's office, he didn't disconnect it abruptly.

Instead, he put everything else on hold and listened intently. "I am calling from the service management department of the Irda. You are losing money on your Ulips because the bonus that accrued on them has gone to the agent," the caller explained. "If you want, it can be refunded to your account."

Sharma is usually circumspect about such offers and SMS marketing. However, the caller knew his name, phone number, address and full details of the plans that the Delhi-based sales executive had bought in the past 3-4 years. So, there was very little reason to doubt his words. Besides, he had nothing to lose.

Or so he thought. Sharma's suspicions were aroused when the caller spelled out the terms of the deal. "Your code has been activated and if you link your existing policies with that code, the accrued bonus will be credited to your account directly. To do that, you have to buy a policy from any company through us," he went on.

Sharma was lucky not to fall for the fraudster's bait. Mumbai-based Ajit Majhi did and got trapped. In February, he was promised a similar deal by someone posing as an official of an insurance company. "She told me that to claim the bonus amount of Rs 84,000, I would have to take another policy of Rs 25,000 from the company," he said in an angry complaint to a consumer forum.

He bought the policy, but far from getting a bonus, his gullibility encouraged the fraudster to go for a bigger kill. She kept fobbing him off with excuses and then announced that the bonus had been enhanced to Rs 1.85 lakh, but that he would have to buy another policy of Rs 50,000. "I told her I couldn't afford to buy another policy and asked her to give me only the original bonus amount of Rs 84,000," Majhi said.

The fraudster was not finished with the milking. For the original bonus too he had to buy another policy. "I told her I had no money, but she advised me to borrow from friends and repay them when I get the bonus money," says Majhi. Eventually, he bought another policy of Rs 25,000 in his wife's name.

By doing so, he only dug a deeper hole for himself. He hasn't got the money yet because there was no such bonus coming his way in the first place. Now he has two insurance policies he didn't need. "Paying an annual premium of Rs 50,000 will be a burden for me," he says. Before Majhi fell into the trap, the fraudster was calling him 6-7 times a day. Now, her phone is constantly switched off.

A senior manager in the customer care department of the company says that after the first policy was sold to Majhi, the company made a welcome call and explained the features of the policy in detail. Majhi admits he was told that there was no bonus offer.

"When I called the adviser, she told me that customer care would not know about the bonus details and it would be credited to my account shortly," he says. Insurance companies are now warning their customers not to fall for such frauds.

Source: Economic Times

Beware of fake phone calls from IRDA
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